The summer has not been kind to Bellerive Country Club, host of the 2018 PGA Championship. It's been hot for so much of the St. Louis summer, and the club's bentgrass greens don't stand up to heat, often followed by deluges of rain in batches, very well.
The end result has been the large Bellerive greens, which average around 10,000 square feet each, now have some bare patches, particularly around the edges and collars. The bare spots have been spray-painted green so they look OK for TV purposes, and it sounds from Golf Digest's on-the-ground reporting that the players haven't seemed to mind too much at this point in championship week. After all, many of these players just came from playing one or more weeks in Scotland, where course conditions aren't as pristine nor expected to be.
However, it doesn't seem like the greens will be getting much faster through Sunday. Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard posted a notice to players from the PGA of America suggesting practice-round green speeds will be substantially lower than what they will see starting Thursday.
— Geoff Shackelford (@GeoffShac) August 7, 2018
The PGA of America may find it difficult to bring up green speeds to where they would like without threatening to kill off what remains of the green grass above ground. Bentgrass retreats its root structure when damaged, particularly by heat, making it difficult to keep the grass healthy underground, even when watering heavily above ground can keep them looking OK.
With rain falling on Tuesday at Bellerive, the greens will get a needed soak. However, the roots of those bentgrass greens won't get dramatically healthier in two days' time. This could mean wet, slower, more receptive greens that won't get much speedier through the four championship rounds. That's going to make navigating these large putting surfaces more difficult if players miss in the wrong spots. There probably were going to be a lot of three-putts this week anyhow, but slower greens could amplify that problem.